November 26, 2013

Someone Call A House Doctor

Looking at your home through the eyes of a potential buyer can be more than a little daunting. What we fondly think of as comfortable and lived-in can turn to cluttered and faded before our eyes. But knowing that something needs to be done to make our home someone else's 'desirable residence' and knowing what to do and how to do it, is another matter.

Is There A Doctor In The House?

Enter Placelift, the professional 'house doctors' who specialise in preparing, presenting and styling residential properties for sale or let. Featured on this week's Kickstart Your Business on Newstalk, they have only been in business for seven months, but are already making a name for themselves in the Wicklow, Bray and Greystones areas, helping home-owners to give their place a lift before potential buyers come calling.

Physician Heal Thyself

As Gerard noted during the show, the Placelift website and promotional flyers and brochure are attractive and well-designed but would really benefit from the same 'de-cluttering' that's such a vital remedy in the house-doctor's medicine bag. A jumble of information and promotions vie for the reader's attention, reminding us that whether a space is virtual or physical, less is often more when it comes to that all-important first impression.

Over To You

How do you suggest that Clodagh and the team at Placelift make that great first impression on potential buyers? Listen back to the show on the Newstalk Kickstart Your Business blog and let us know what you think. We'd love to hear from you.

November 19, 2013

You've Got (Even More) Mail!

Being the inquisitive and social creatures we are, it's no surprise we find it hard to resist checking our email on an increasingly regular basis over the course of our working day. We now spend up to two hours a day trawling through two hundred plus emails, wasting precious time and distracting us from the things that really matter.

On Newstalk's Kickstart Your Business this week, our featured business Hiri (pronounced 'heery') may be just the solution to put manners on our email. A well thought-out product, Hiri is an email application, designed for business users, that promises to sharpen up email communication within organisations and claw back some of the lost time dealing inefficiently with email messages.

To Whom It May Concern

So what did we make of Hiri? They've already done a great job with the smart look and feel of their website, but they may be leaning rather too heavily towards the user (who's hugely important, of course) rather than addressing their key customer, the enterprise itself.

Stop, Wait A Minute, Mr. Postman

We suggested to Hiri that the best way to advertise a product is through the product itself. There's a real opportunity to illustrate the power of efficient and thoughtful communication by way of email. For example, through its sign-up facility, Hiri can respond with an email demonstrating clarity, brevity, tone and behaviour (which they tell us are the four cornerstones of excellent communication) rather than the more perfunctory mail that's currently sent out.

Over To You

How do you suggest that David and Kevin at Hiri might better communicate with their key customer? Listen back to the show at Newstalk's Kickstart Your Business Blog and let us know what you think; we'd love to hear from you.

November 12, 2013

To Market, To Market, To Buy A Fat Pig

Bringing the Market Place to Life Online

There is something romantic and earthy about the traditional market place where we get to meet producers and stallholders, each one good-naturedly vying for our attention as we meander through the hustle and bustle, savouring the competing sounds, sights and smells.

On yesterday's ‘Kickstart Your Business’ on Newstalk, we were introduced to an exciting new business Set up by Keith McGuigan, gives people the opportunity to buy goods from farmer’s market all over Ireland and provides a platform for local market producers and stallholders to reach a wider audience.

One a Penny, Two a Penny, Hot Cross Buns

Like any business and website starting out, is a work in progress but already their visual identity is spot on. What is missing from the website is the sense of personality and character we associate with stallholders and their produce at local markets.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

We suggested Keith first look at how customers choose to buy from a real market and then host that interactive experience for them online. For example, the buzz of the local market could be better captured with vibrant and eye-catching photography and the personality of the market could come to life with videos of stallholders pitching their wares (rather than just talking to camera).

Over to You

How do you suggest that Keith and his team might better go to market? Whether you listened to the show and / or read this blogpost, we’d love to hear what you think.

November 05, 2013

A Moment On The Lips: How Hot Chocolate Goes To Your Bottom Line

A Guest Post from Anne Tannam, Brand Manager at Islandbridge Brand Development

Earlier in the week, I was sitting in the foyer of a hotel close to Baggot Street waiting for a client to arrive. There was the usual mix of people sitting on the comfortable couches; tourists poring over city-break brochures, business people glued to their laptops, and inquisitive me: people-watching to pass the time.

Looking around, I noticed that though it was a Tuesday and very close to lunchtime, the restaurant beside me held only a handful of customers who, by and large, were eating on their own and in silence.

Hey, Is There Anyone Out There?

As my client had texted ahead to say she’d be another ten minutes, I decided to treat myself to a hot chocolate to hold off the hunger pangs until after the meeting. I tried to catch the eye of a member of staff to order but they all seemed distracted, moving quickly across the foyer with other business to attend to.

I glanced around at my fellow foyer visitors and saw most of them were also sitting there without drink or food and, more tellingly, without any interaction or banter with staff.

A Missed Opportunity

My client then arrived, declined the offer of a drink and we settled down to have our meeting. Afterwards, though hungry, I wasn’t tempted to stay for a bite of lunch and instead, nipped into the deli next door and ordered a sandwich to go (the hot chocolate would have to wait for another day).

As I cycled back to the office with both my helmet and brand manager hat on, I thought about my experience at the hotel and couldn’t help think that they had missed out on a very important opportunity. 

In money and bottom-line thinking, it probably doesn’t seem like much; eight to ten euros on a hot chocolate and a sandwich but the opportunity was so much bigger than that.

When You Say Nothing At All

Simply put, the hotel failed to invite me to become a customer. I was just someone sitting in the foyer of their hotel for an hour. During that time, there was no eye contact, no invitation to purchase and no attempt to establish the type of business relationship that might prompt me to return again or to recommend the hotel to others.

In short, despite the very comfy couch and the soft music playing in the background, I did not feel like a welcome guest. And that has to be the aim of all those working in the hospitality sector and the reason four billion euros was spent by tourists in Ireland in 2012. 

And I’m sure some of it was spent on hot chocolate!.

A Moment On The Lips

Bottom line is, as business owners and managers we must always remember that people are not just buying a product or service from us; they are buying an experience. We are social animals by nature and personal interaction with your customers, coupled with a clear offer and proposition, is likely to yield both far greater results and profit margins for your business and to create satisfied customers who feel welcome and appreciated and therefore much more likely to return again and again to relive the experience.

What Do You Think? What are the opportunities in your business both to make a sale and create a customer, who's likely to return again and recommend you to others?